Marital Rape A Valid Ground For Divorce: Kerala High Court

Even though the penal law does not recognise “marital rape,” the Kerala High Court has ruled that it is a good reason to seek divorce.
“Just because the law does not recognise marital rape as a form of cruelty under criminal law does not preclude the court from considering it as a form of cruelty in granting divorce. As a result, we believe that marital rape is a good reason for divorce,” Justices A.Muhamed Mustaque and Dr.Kauser Edappagath added.
The bench mentioned that the husband’s licentious disposition disregarding the autonomy of the wife is marital rape, despite the fact that such conduct is not punishable, it falls under the category of bodily and emotional cruelty.
It emphasised that in current social jurisprudence, couples in marriage are treated equally, and that the husband cannot claim superiority over the wife based on her body or individual position.
“Treating a wife’s body as though it belonged to her husband and doing sexual acts against her consent is marital rape,” the Bench continued.
In its decision, the Court referred to the family court’s decision, which stated that the appellant was treating the respondent like a money-making machine and that the respondent was accepting the harassment for the sake of marriage.
It was stated that the appellant’s own father had filed financial harassment accusations against him in order to obtain police protection.
Similarly, the appellant had harassed and threatened his father-in-law, demanding money from him on a regular basis.
According to the High Court, she testified that when she was unwell and immobile, the appellant engaged in violent intercourse. She also testified that she was forced to engage in the most heinous forms of sexual perversion and unnatural intercourse. Even on the day the appellant’s mother died, the respondent testified, the appellant did not spare her for sex. The appellant also pushed her to have sex in front of their daughter.
The importance of bodily autonomy in a marriage partnership was further highlighted by the Court.
“Autonomy is defined as a state of feeling or condition over which one believes they have control. In matrimony, a spouse’s privacy is a vital right that he or she has as an individual. As a result, marital privacy is inextricably linked to human autonomy, and any physical or other intervention into such space would jeopardise privacy “The Court expressed its opinion, stating that such intrusion would be cruel.
In this case, the Court found that the respondent’s unquenchable desire for wealth and sex had led her to divorce her spouse. As a result, the appeal was dismissed, and the divorce issued by the family court was upheld.

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